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LETTER: An open letter from NYSUT

Editor, The Spotlight:

New York State United Teachers today launched a statewide public campaign asking parents to join teachers in opposing the state’s use of new, hastily implemented standardized tests for high-stakes decisions affecting students and teachers.

For months, the statewide union has been pressing the State Education Department to acknowledge teachers’ growing concerns with the state’s rocky implementation of new Common Core learning standards and new standardized tests that students must take in April.

While NYSUT supports the “potential” of the new Common Core learning standards and fully embraces the principle of accountability for students and educators, two-thirds of teachers said in a poll that their students lacked textbooks and materials aligned with the state’s new standards. Even worse, many teachers say students will be tested next month on material that has not yet been taught, with the state still distributing materials and guidance to teachers as late as last month. Education Commissioner John King Jr. and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, among others, have acknowledged student test scores will plummet — likely up to 30 percent — yet New York is still permitting the scores to be used to unfairly labeling students and measure teacher effectiveness.

“Teachers have repeatedly urged the State Education Department and Regents to use this year’s tests to measure the state’s progress in implementing the Common Core, not for high-stakes decisions affecting students and teachers,” said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. “They aren’t listening.”

Iannuzzi said that, after months of intense efforts to get State Education Department leaders to acknowledge the specific and documented concerns voiced by teachers statewide, the union decided to take the issue public. NYSUT is taking out full-page print and on-line ads in leading upstate newspapers this week calling on parents to unite in a strong push-back against the state’s over-reliance on standardized testing. The print and on-line ads link to a parent petition that will also be shared locally and via social media. Both the ads and petition can be found at www.nysut.org.

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